Green energy industrialist Dale Vince has announced he will stop funding Just Stop Oil and will instead focus on an anti-Conservative campaign to get the vote out among the younger generation.
The Ecotricity founder, who has donated to both the climate group and Labour, said continued disruption was “pointless” as the Government will not change its stance on oil and gas drilling in the North Sea.
He said he will instead divert his efforts to a new cause, “Just Vote”, which encourages young people and first-time voters to exercise their democratic right.
In a statement, Mr Vince said: “It’s a fact of our electoral system that only one of two parties can form the next government; we want to bring a focus to this reality and to the opportunity that we have – to elect a green government, one that will embrace the opportunities we face, rather than make an enemy of them – and use them to tackle the long list of issues we face as a country.”
Labour has promised to ban the granting of new licences to explore oil and gas fields in the North Sea if it wins the next election, but would not tear up any licences already approved by Rishi Sunak.
Mr Vince applauded the “conviction and commitment” of Just Stop Oil protesters, whose demonstrations he has funded from their inception, but suggested further action would play into the Government’s hand by feeding the so-called “culture war”.
“Consequently, I’m no longer going to fund protest but will instead switch all of my time, effort and funding to a new cause.”
It comes after Rishi Sunak last month watered down efforts to tackle the climate crisis, including a five-year delay to the ban on new fossil fuel cars, citing the need to avoid a public “backlash”.
Labour pledged to retain the 2030 target for electric cars if it wins the next election.
Polling has suggested Britons support measures to tackle climate change – but the balance shifts when asked their opinion if such actions dealt a blow to their personal finances.
Just Stop Oil thanked Mr Vince but indicated it would continue what it describes as a campaign of “civil resistance” to make its point.
“We are grateful to Dale Vince for his amazing financial and moral support over the past year. However, we remain convinced that politics is broken and the Labour Party are moral cowards,” a spokesperson said.
“They have no intention of stopping the oil and gas projects that this illegitimate, zombie government is furiously rubber-stamping, in one last-ditch arson spree… More and more people are coming round to what really works – civil resistance.”
Conservative Party chairman Greg Hands suggested the move showed Labour “cannot be trusted”, saying: “It’s no surprise that Just Stop Oil’s funder-in-chief is throwing his full support behind the party of protest.”